SAILING heroine Dame Ellen MacArthur has described three Hampshire round-the-world racers as “fantastic” after they all completed the gruelling Vendée Globe race.

Sam Davies, Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson all crossed the finish line in the French port of Les Sables d’Olonne this week after three months at sea.

It was a record-breaking race for both Hamble sailor Davies and Caffari from Titchfield – Davies became only the second British female ever to complete the race while Caffari secured her place in history as the first woman ever to sail solo non-stop around the world in both directions.

Dame Ellen, pictured left, who shot to fame in 2001 after coming second in the 28,000-mile race, yesterday paid tribute to the three brave sailors.

She said: “The pure fact that close to two thirds of the Vendée fleet have pulled out for one reason or another is testament to just how hard this race really is. Our English contingent of Sam, Dee and Brian finishing is fantastic. Sam sailed an incredible race, achieving fourth place, especially as she had an old generation boat. Dee is once again in the history books as the first woman to sail round the world both ways non stop, nice job!

“And Brian has had a very impressive race considering he had not had his boat long before crossing the start line.”

First of the “Britpack” to finish was Davies, who crossed the line in third position on Saturday morning but missed out on a podium position by one hour and 19 minutes after redress was granted to Frenchman Marc Guillemot.

Davies, 33, and Guillemot were given time for their part in the rescue of Yann Elies earlier in the race.

Thompson, 46, from the Isle of Wight, came in fifth on Monday morning after 98 days and 20 hours at sea. Caffari, 36, followed just hours later, crossing the line in sixth shortly after 1pm. Fellow Hampshire sailors Alex Thomson, Mike Golding and Jonny Malbon were among the 19 of the starting 30 skippers forced to retire.